They Are the Damned, Part II -- A Vicious Lie from Beginning to End
I have been through the lengthy and deeply immoral history of government deception in wartime before. As far as I am concerned, a recent and detailed article is the final nail in the coffin of the entirely false case for war with Iraq. The lying went on through two administrations, those of both Clinton and Bush II, and numerous government officials peddled what they knew to be utterly false statements repeatedly and endlessly, before the entire world.
Here is the key excerpt from the case, detailed in this essay:
In February 2003, as the worldwide debate over war was just reaching a crescendo, Newsweek reporter John Barry obtained a classified copy of the original U.N. transcript of Hussein Kamel's 1995 debriefing by Rolf Ekeus and his UNSCOM colleagues. [Hussein Kamel was the"son-in-law of Saddam Hussein and head of Iraq's weapons industries."] Barry, a veteran of the Iraqi WMD beat, wrote up his scoop in a little item, a mere six paragraphs long, that appeared in the magazine's"Periscope" section. Although it received virtually no notice at the time, what Barry wrote seemed to turn the whole Iraq story on its head:If you ever wondered what evil looks like, this is its face, exposed in its naked, terrible and unforgivable heinousness to all the world.
"Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein's inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that [in 1991] after the Gulf War, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.
The stocks had been destroyed to hide the programs from the U.N. inspectors, but Iraq had retained the design and engineering details of these weapons. Kamel talked of hidden blueprints, computer disks, microfiches and even missile-warhead molds.
Still, the defector's tale raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist."
When the story failed to win exposure in the media, a handful of writers and analysts on both sides of the Atlantic (including this writer), viewing the news as a major bombshell, took it upon themselves to publicize it. One of the group, Glen Rangwala, a Middle East specialist at Cambridge University, managed to obtain a copy of the transcript himself. He immediately posted it on his website.
A fifteen-page typewritten U.N. document stamped"SENSITIVE," the transcript made it clear that almost everything the world thought it knew about Iraq's WMD was wrong. It was minutely detailed and often quite technical, a cross-examination of one specialist by another. And although Kamel used different words at different points in the interview, his story was always the same. He stated it most simply on page 13:
"All weapons -- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed." The destruction took place in the summer of 1991.
What about chemical weapons?
"I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons."
An inspector inquired about anthrax."Were weapons and agents destroyed?"
How about the 819 Soviet-made missiles Iraq was known to have purchased in the 1980's?
"Not a single missile left, but they [kept] blueprints and molds for production. All missiles were destroyed."
In other words, the defector who had been cited time after time, over eight years, by two presidents and their cabinets, as the source that proved Saddam was still hiding a deadly arsenal of chemical and biological weapons -- that defector had actually said the opposite: Not only did the weapons not exist, they had been destroyed before Clinton was even elected.
Take, for example, the"5,000 gallons of botulinum. 2,000 gallons of anthrax, 25 biological-filled Scud warheads and 157 aerial bombs" -- the weapons Bill Clinton had listed in 1998. Or consider the"26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulin, one and a half tons of nerve agent VX, 6,500 aerial chemical bombs" -- the weapons rattled off by Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer as the U.N. was inspecting Iraq in 2003.
"We don't know where those [weapons] are," Fleischer claimed."We have yet to see any accounting for all of these." In fact, it was these very stockpiles that Kamel attested had been destroyed in 1991.
There is now little doubt that Kamel was telling the truth. The strongest evidence -- evidence so unimpeachable it invites the word"proof" -- came in the form of a captured Iraqi document obtained in January by Barton Gellman of The Washington Post. The memo was composed five days after Kamel's defection, on August 13, 1995, and its author was Hossam Amin, Iraq's chief liaison to the U.N. inspectors. It was addressed to Qusay Hussein, Saddam's son.
The letter was a piece of damage assessment. Kamel was expected to blow all Iraq's cover stories to the inspectors, and the regime needed to prepare itself for the fallout. So Amin proceeded to lay out for his boss, in minute detail, two separate storylines: The version Iraq had told the inspectors about each weapons program, and what the truth was. (Or, as the memo itself put it:"the matters that are known to the traitor and not declared" to the U.N.)
Among the memo's statements of fact was that"destruction of the biological weapons agents took place in the summer of 1991" In a comprehensive evaluation of the evidence, Gellman stood Kamel's 1995 briefing to the U.N. against the real story laid out in Amin's memo. The comparison, he concluded,"suggests that Kamel left little or nothing out."
Iraq had eliminated all its weapons of mass destruction by the summer of 1991, and the U.S. had been told of it in 1995.
For these unending lies, approximately 550 Americans have died to date, an unascertainable number of other Americans have been grievously injured, our economy has been profoundly damaged for decades to come, and we are mired in Iraq for the indefinite future. And more Americans will die -- and for precisely nothing.
Nothing. Think about that. They knew the truth, they knew it in 1995, and they lied about it, over and over and over again.
And innocent Americans are dead, together with countless innocent Iraqis. Or rather, I should say, uncounted Iraqis, since we don't appear to even want to be bothered counting the corpses of the people we were supposed to be"liberating."
The only remaining justification that the hawks have is their delusion of"remaking the Middle East," a delusion I discussed here, and in many other entries. It is a complete, hallucinatory fantasy, there is no support for it anywhere in history, and all those people who subscribe to it might as well believe in little green men from Mars.
These are the results of"The Roots of Horror," and this part of my current essay is especially relevant to these particular issues.
As far as I am concerned, every single government official who took part in this policy of deception is beyond forgiveness, and beyond redemption. Each single, individual human life represents a supreme and irreplaceable value. When genuine threats appear that would harm us, we must deal with them, of course. And any lives lost in such justified enterprises are deeply tragic, but unavoidable.
But to cost innocent Americans and innocent Iraqis their lives, for a policy which was a lie from beginning to end, is beyond my comprehension. I simply cannot understand how people can permit themselves such evil. I understand the mechanism involved, which is why I am discussing it at such length in my current series, but on a certain very deep level, I cannot fully grasp how people can allow themselves to act in such a manner -- and to condemn completely blameless human beings to death.
There is no forgiveness possible to such people in my view. They have written themselves out of the human race. If such a punishment could be made real, they would deserve eternal torment. And I would expect everyone who is basically decent, and who gives a damn, to feel exactly the same way.
As I said once before, They Are The Damned. And so they are.
- T. rex fossils arrive at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
- Quote of the Day -- Time Magazine's Top 100 People
- Investigation: The Resegregation of America's Schools
- 5 Explosive Revelations Leaked from Senate Report Exposing CIA Torture
- In Parts of the South, Glorifying Slavery No Longer Pays the Bills
- UC Berkeley professor emeritus Robert Harlan dies at 84
- She Came All the Way from Melbourne to Attend the OAH
- The 7 Most Popular HNN Videos from the 2014 OAH
- Jesse Lemisch’s up-from-below history is still strikingly original
- U.Va. Historian Alan Taylor Wins 2014 Pulitzer for Book on Slaves and War -- His second Pulitzer!